No kitten around: Zoom filter turns lawyer into cat during video hearing

Click to play video: 'Texas judge issues Zoom warning after lawyer struggles with cat filter'
Texas judge issues Zoom warning after lawyer struggles with cat filter
WATCH: A judge with the 394th District Court of Texas issued a warning about the perils of Zoom filters on Feb. 9 as he shared video showing a lawyer accidentally showing up for virtual court with a cat filter turned on – Feb 10, 2021

Zoom meetings can be frustrating, as many have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometimes you can’t fix your microphone. Sometimes you forget your camera is on and you do something silly.

And sometimes you’re stuck looking like a cat.

A Texas lawyer appeared in virtual court as a very confused kitten this week in a Zoom filter-related mishap that has since captured viral fame.

Video from the Zoom call shows Judge H. Gibbs Bauer and lawyer Rod Ponton — or rather, a kitten with his voice — trying to troubleshoot the pawblem, while attorney Jerry Phillips looks on in amused silence.

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Texas attorney Rod Ponton, bottom right, is shown with a cat filter over his face during a Zoom court hearing, in this image from video released Feb. 9, 2021. 394th District Court of Texas via Storyful

“Mr. Ponton, I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings,” Bauer says from the bottom left corner of the screen. “You might want to uh…”

“I — I’m trying to,” Ponton’s cat avatar says in the bottom right corner of the screen, his voice shaking with confusion. “Can you hear me judge?”

“I can hear you,” Bauer says. “I think it’s a filter.”

Ponton’s cat eyes can be seen darting around in confusion and panic.

“It is and I don’t know how to remove it,” he says. “I’ve got my assistant here, she’s trying to but …”

Ponton then appears to resign to his fate.

“I’m prepared to go forward with it,” he says. “I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”

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Bauer smirks a bit. “I can see that,” he says.

The 394th District Court in Texas released the video on Tuesday as a warning about the dangers of kitten kidding around with filters on the program.

“If a child used your computer, before you join a virtual hearing check the Zoom Video Options to be sure filters are off,” Judge Roy Ferguson wrote on Twitter. “This kitten just made a formal announcement on a case in the 394th (sound on).”

Ponton, 69, told Reuters that he’s still not sure how the filter was enabled.

“I logged into my secretary’s computer to appear at this hearing via Zoom, and when everybody’s ready the judge calls the case and everybody’s face is supposed to pop up on Zoom,” he said.

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“And everybody’s face popped up except mine. Mine was a cat.”

Judge Ferguson said “everyone involved handled it with grace and dignity.”

“A few slight smiles, and no derogatory comments,” Ferguson tweeted. “The lawyer who was struggling with the filter handled it beautifully. A testament to professionalism all around!”

It’s unclear if Ponton has learned all the ins and outs of Zoom filters following the mishap — but he’ll likely be more careful about such things from meow on.

With files from Reuters

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